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PARTNERSHIP UNVEILS NEW PROCESS TO REMOVE CONTAMINATION FROM GROUNDWATER AND SOIL

 LANSING, Mich., March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- An unusual partnership of Michigan regulators, the oil and gas industry and academia, today unveiled a new practical application for bioremediation that can remove hydrocarbon contamination from groundwater and soil two to three times as fast and for less than half the cost of conventional methods under certain circumstances.
 Results of the three-year, $1.5 million Cooperative Bioremediation Research for Michigan (CoBioReM) project could save Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars by dramatically cutting the state's and industry's cost to clean contaminated sites. It will also speed the cleanup of contaminated groundwater and soil across the state and prevent unnecessary expenditures for less-efficient remediation efforts.
 The CoBioReM project is a unique alliance between the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Michigan Oil and Gas Association (MOGA) and a group of leading engineers and scientists from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University called the Michigan Universities Hazardous Waste Management Consortium (MUC).
 The groups created CoBioReM in 1989 to develop an effective, acceptable and practical method for cleaning hydrocarbon contaminants left in soil and groundwater by inadvertent petroleum leaks and spills.
 CoBioReM's system adds oxygen and nutrients to groundwater to accelerate the natural activities of microbes in the soil and water, causing the microbes to more quickly break down and remove the contaminants, called the BTEX compounds -- benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
 In a field test, the method removed more than 90 percent of the existing BTEX contamination after just one year and removed traces of BTEX more completely than conventional methods.
 "The CoBioReM concept and methodology represent a fundamentally new approach. It is a completely successful, mutually beneficial environmental research affiliation between industry, regulators and academia," said C.N. "Tom" Tinker, an engineering adviser with Shell Western E&P Inc., a division of Shell Oil Company and a CoBioReM sponsor.
 "CoBioReM gives us new tools and technology that will significantly decrease the time and cost of many environmental cleanups," added Tinker, who reviewed the project's findings at a two-day CoBioReM conference in Lansing.
 Findings include:
 -- Natural bacteria exist in Michigan soils and groundwater that are capable of hydrocarbon biodegradation.
 -- Aerobic biodegradation occurs naturally if sufficient oxygen and nutrients are present in the soil or groundwater.
 -- Groundwater cleanup can occur in an underground aquifier. CoBioReM is the first known groundwater remediation system approved in the U.S. that does not require the conventional above-ground treatment of the water before re-injecting it into the ground.
 -- "Soil venting" or vapor extraction will remove hydrocarbons from unsaturated soil and reduce "leaching" to the groundwater.
 -- New applications of several technical innovations to obtain undisturbed samples of soil and groundwater at the test site. The extensive and accurate information obtained by these methods allowed better quality, lower cost site assessments and remediation designs.
 CoBioReM's work began in 1989 when scientists from MUC and Shell Development started researching bioremediation methods and designing field tests. On Aug. 1, 1991, Shell Western E&P Inc. started its demonstration of groundwater bioremediation at a site in Wexford, Mich., and Amoco Production Company began soil cleanup demonstrations at 12 different Michigan sites.
 CoBioReM's success led the DNR to begin approving similar methods for other contaminated sites across the state. Two currently under way at other Shell sites will reduce cleanup costs by approximately $500,000, Tinker said.
 Oil and gas industry representatives hope that CoBioReM's success will lead the DNR to one day accept natural biodegradation as the remediation method of choice, said Frank Mortl, MOGA president.
 "CoBioReM demonstrated that bioremediation costs less and is more effective than conventional purge and treat or dig and dump remediation techniques. It also produced technology that should encourage site- specific cleanup standards and the design of economical remediation systems," Mortl said.
 John Shauver, chief of the policy and program evaluation section of the DNR, who participated in the project, said the CoBioReM project demonstrated how a cooperative effort between industry and government should work.
 "At long last, the use of naturally occurring soil bacteria has now been thoroughly investigated by reputable research institutions," he said, "... hydrocarbon contamination in groundwater ... and soils can be successfully cleaned up to meet Michigan's regulatory standards."
 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
 -- Natural bacteria exist in Michigan soils and groundwater that are capable of hydrocarbon biodegradation.
 -- Aerobic biodegradation occurs naturally if sufficient oxygen and nutrients are present in the soil or groundwater.
 -- "Soil venting" or vapor extraction will remove hydrocarbons from unsaturated soil and reduce "leaching" to groundwater.
 -- Groundwater cleanup can occur in an underground aquifier. CoBioReM is the first known groundwater remediation system approved in the U.S. that does not require the conventional, above-ground treatment of the water before re-injecting it into the ground.
 -- CoBioReM's "closed-loop in-situ" bioremediation method reduced the BTEX contaminants by more than 90 percent in the first year. It will cut the time and expense of cleanup methods by an estimated 50 percent compared to conventional methods.
 -- CoBioReM's method will save Michigan businesses and state government millions of dollars in cleanup costs compared to conventional methods.
 -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) now accepts the effectiveness of this bioremediation technique and has approved its use at other sites. A pair under way now will likely reduce cleanup costs by $500,000.
 -- Reductions in groundwater contaminants at the test site resulted from biodegradation and not dilution. Proof came from the first known use in the U.S. of multi-level piezometers for groundwater sampling which allowed conclusive, cost-effective, three-dimensional monitoring and evaluation of the site.
 -- A cone penetrometer, a soil delineation instrument, provides information allowing better quality, lower cost assessments and remediation designs for contaminated sites. In its first successful use in Michigan, the cone penetrometer provided data for fast, inexpensive, accurate and detailed subsurface site assessments -- including soil structure and composition, groundwater chemistry and dimensions of the "plume" of hydrocarbon contamination.
 -- Computer models can accurately predict groundwater flow, how the hydrocarbon may spread and remediation times. This information can help design the bioremediation method and predict the outcome.
 -- Intercepting groundwater, pumping it above ground to add oxygen and re-injecting it into the ground prevents plumes of hydrocarbon contamination from migrating and significantly improves remediation by accelerating biodegradation.
 -- In groundwater with high iron concentrations, nitrate can facilitate biodegradation of some hydrocarbons instead of oxygen.
 The Project:
 CoBioReM is a three-year, $1.5 million research project to prove and improve practical and effective methods for cleaning up hydrocarbon contamination (the BTEX compounds -- benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene), applied and tested on real contamination sites provided by the oil and gas industry. It began in 1989 and concluded in 1992.
 The Participants:
 The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Oil and Gas Association and the Michigan Universities Hazardous Waste Management Consortium.
 -0- 3/1/93
 /CONTACT: Diane Marinelli of Publicom Inc., 517-487-3700, for CoBioReM/


CO: CoBioReM ST: Michigan IN: SU: PDT

DH -- DE024 -- 1367 03/01/93 11:29 EST
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